Gay and lesbian visitors to Japan and indeed Tokyo will be welcomed gracefully and respectfully. However it’s wise not to flaunt your sexuality in public – as this is a conservative nation that prefers a low key approach. Japan doesn’t have any laws prohibiting homosexuality but additional equality rights are not on any political agenda at the moment. Despite the lack of gay protections for its gay citizens, Tokyo boasts a thriving gay night life just waiting to be explored.
After checking out the sites of central Tokyo during the day, settle in for a terrific night in one of Tokyo’s dedicated gay bars. In the Shinjuku 2 district is the friendly bar named Arty Farty that welcomes both girls and guys to the dance floor; patrons are encouraged to request their favourite tune from the DJ. Also in Shinjuku 2, consider enjoying a drink at Dragon Men or Advocates Café. The club AgeHa hosts one of the biggest gay nights in the city – entitled Shangri-La, this is an event that attracts people from all around Asia and beyond. Girls may appreciate Kinswomyn, Motel #203 or Adezakura.
While hotels in central Tokyo welcome gay and lesbian travellers, it’s advisable to keep it low-key as society is still relatively conservative.
Tokyo Pride Parade
The first gay parade took place in Tokyo in 1996 and has been held intermittently over the past decade usually in August. The aim of the event is to increase the visibility of homosexuality within Japanese culture. The parade route includes Meiji Dori and Meiji Jingy-mae before finishing at the Tokyo Yoyogi Park. Following the march there are speeches and entertainment from an outdoor stage erected in the Park. The general view of the current organisers is to hold the parade every two years but this may change in the future.